Malcolm OngSVP Product @ SCMP, Lyft, Co-founder @ Skillshare
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SVP Product @ SCMP (incl. Abacus), Co-founder of Skillshare | Prev: Product & Growth @ Lyft, EIR @ 500 Startups, OMGPOP (acq. Zynga), Razorfish (acq. Publicis), IBM



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I would consider convertible equity (not debt) for smaller / Seed rounds. They're generally simple and efficient.

If you decide on convertible, I would use something like 500 Startups' KISS docs: http://500.co/kiss/

See more info here: http://venturehacks.com/articles/debt-or-equity


I am one of the co-founders of Skillshare, which is in this business (though not for finance and trading areas).

Your question is a bit vague, so it depends on a lot of specifics. How are these classes "delivered"? Who are your target customers? Are you looking to be more of a content provider, or a platform, or..?

Depending on the specifics, you could either start your own site, and host your courses there.. or simply distribute and syndicate your content elsewhere.

Happy to help if I can if you want to schedule a call.


Without knowing specific metrics, I would guess: Draw Something, Candy Crush, Clash of Clans, Farmville, and many more


I've worked on a few different matching / recommendation algorithms, and to some extent, we did exactly this at Skillshare.

For both "best match" during a search, as well as the default or auto-match, it's all about relevance.. there shouldn't really be a different goal for each.

If I'm searching for a specific course or subject, you should filter by that category.. then use things in the student's profile (e.g. major, year / age-range, etc) to determine best relevancy on the tutor side.

Without specifics, then you could at least use more general inputs, like location (in-person tutoring?) and time zone, to determine relevancy.

Beyond these, I would offer a filter / sort based on "new" or "featured" (curated) vs. "popular" or "highest rated" .. but use your internal algorithm (and UX design) to tweak whatever you want.

Happy to help and discuss in more detail based on the specifics of your business.


Marketing and customer acquisition usually involves experimenting with various channels, tweaking & iterating, and doubling down on the ones that perform. You essentially want to be where your target customers "live."

On a high level, your potential channels would be:
- Content Marketing & Social Media (e.g. writing blog posts)
- Paid Ads (Google, Facebook, Twitter)
- PR (get written in startup publications, Product Hunt)
- Partnerships (partner with startups, investors, or accelerators)
- Referral program
- other places where entrepreneurs "live" (forums, communities)

Finally, not exactly an acquisition channel, but I believe branding and community go a long way.

Happy to chat and help in more detail with the specifics on your business.


I find that sites like Elance, Upwork, 99designs, etc. don't offer high quality designers.

IMO, the best place to find high quality designers are Dribbble: https://dribbble.com/

You can also consider using a service like Crew: https://crew.co/. They hand-select designers and work with you throughout the process, and I've heard good things.


Depends on what kind of product you're building, and specifically how you'd like to engage with your users.. but I'd recommend using tools similar to UserVoice, GetSatisfaction, etc.


I may be able to help from my experience founding and building Skillshare, as well as researching marketplaces in general during that time. What specific questions do you have?

Feel free to ping me to setup a call.


There's certainly many things you can try for customer acquisition -- SEO, ads, partnerships, creative marketing campaigns, etc. In regards to those that are specifically referrals, I think clients can refer lawyers, and vice versa.. especially if you offer some tool / workflow that makes that relationship (once created) a much better experience.



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